A Republican Sheepshead Bay T-shirt maker has his sights set on taking over a longtime Democratic congressional seat that now contains conservative-leaning neighborhoods such as Marine Park and Bergen Beach.
“My odds are really good now,” Alan Bellone said about succeeding Rep. Ed Towns (D–Canarsie). “Republicans have a shot to take this seat.”
Bellone, who owns A Stitch Above in Downtown and ran unsuccessfully against Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D–Sheepshead Bay) in 2008 and 2010, said the seat could be his because residents in neighborhoods added to Towns’s expansive Central Brooklyn district earlier this year have backed Rep. Bob Turner (R–Sheepshead Bay) and GOP state senate candidate David Storobin.
The 49-year-old father of two also said he’ll be the favorite in Southern Brooklyn.
“Knowing those neighborhoods will give me an advantage,” said Bellone, who’s launching his candidacy later this month and promised to focus his energies on jobs, housing, and education if he’s elected.
Bellone will be going up against either Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D–Fort Greene) or Councilman Charles Barron (D–Canarsie), who are squaring off in the June 26 Democratic primary. Towns represented Central Brooklyn for more than a quarter of a century before announcing his retirement last month.
Southern Brooklyn has long been considered a democratic stronghold, but that changed last fall when Turner beat Assemblyman David Weprin in the race to replace former Democrat Rep. Anthony Weiner. Republican David Storobin beat Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park) in an extremely close special election to replace prison-bound ex-pol Carl Kruger last week — but the vote was so close a recount has been ordered.
Brooklyn Republican Party Chairman Craig Eaton said the GOP will back Bellone in the hopes of scoring another upset.
“We’re going to be spending a lot of time and effort on this race,” Eaton said.
Southern Brooklyn politicos said a strong Republican challenger could beat the Democratic nominee in Southern Brooklyn — especially since Jeffries and Barron have no connections to those neighborhoods.
“Southern Brooklyn residents don’t want liberals,” said Democratic District Leader Michael Geller (D–Sheepshead Bay). “People are looking for alternatives.”
Still, Bellone has an uphill climb: he hasn’t raised any money for his congressional run.
He also managed to capture a pitiful 21 percent of the vote against Weinstein two years ago after spending less than $1,000 on his Assembly campaign.
Jeffries has just under $400,000 cash on hand.
Barron has roughly $40,000 in his war chest. Both men also have wider name recognition than Bellone and have vowed to campaign heavily in Southern Brooklyn.
Reach reporter Daniel Bush at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.